The glow from the setting sun cast eerie red streaks through the smoke shrouded field. Flames leapt skyward in dazzling yellow and orange turbulence.
The atmosphere, once filled with the excitement of families and business men gathering to witness the great spectacle, without warning became a surreal calamity. The zeppelin, the Hindenburg fell from the sky in a brilliant ball of fire.
Lord, please. My disoriented thoughts scrambled out of control. I’ve got to help them. I ran toward the mass of twisted metal settling to the ground; a pillar of black smoke towered over the frightened crew and passengers. Give them strength, Lord ... Give me strength.
The stench of burning fuel and flesh overwhelmed my senses. I ran toward the wreckage.
“Helfen Sie ihnen.” A crewmember yelled. “Sie sind auf feuer.” He dragged the lifeless body of a crewmate away from the blaze.
The pandemonium spread.
Bodies of the dead and the injured lay scattered across the ground. The creaking of the melting steel drowned out their pleas for help.
Oh my Lord. I ran amongst the panicked survivors. “Go! Run!” I yelled, gesturing to the frightened crowd. “Get out of here.” I continued into the carnage.
The stifling heat intensified.
The smoke and ash burned my lungs and eyes. I winced, turning away from the tragedy. I can’t give up. I pressed forward, disregarding my own peril. “Are you okay?” I grabbed a victim by the shoulders.
“My arm.” He gasped. “I hurt my arm.” He clutched the injured appendage near his body; the burns and abrasions showing through his tattered shirt.
“Get to safety.” I pointed to the outskirts of the field.
A hand grabbed my ankle. “Helfen Sie mir bitte.” The man’s voice trembled. “Bin ich Gehen zu sterben?”
“I…I’m sorry.” I knelt beside him. “I don’t understand.”
Blazing embers rained down upon the mooring pad like a fourth of July spectacular.
Charred and blistered skin ravaged the man’s body; his clothes torn and burnt off him. The smell of singed hair permeated the air. I could not keep myself from staring. My Lord. How can I help this man?
“Not goot, I speak you language.” He grimaced with every movement. “Will I die?”
The commotion faded from my conscious thoughts. I stared with disbelief. How can he endure this … How can you let him suffer? I did not touch him, fearing I would cause greater pain. “Be still. I’ll get help.”
“Stay, please.” He extended his hand toward me, crying in agony. “You give this my wife?” He opened his fingers. A tiny crucifix lay on his palm.
“You…?” Stunned, I retrieved the amulet from his hand. “You believe?… In God?”
The twisted frame of the dirigible glowed against the ever darkening sky. I gazed skyward. The black column of smoke reached into the night. Dear Lord, I am helpless. What do you want me to do? Tears flowed down my cheeks, caking with the soot on my face.
The man grasped my hand.
I looked into his eyes. “Can I pray with you?”
“Please.” He squeezed his swollen eyes shut. “Mein lieber Herr,” he uttered. “Trösten Sie die Verletzung und der Sterben.” His voice wavered. “The suffering please find comfort.”
I was unable to speak. How can he pray for others in his time of need?
His body trembled; his grip released.
A hand grabbed my shoulder. “Another survivor?”
I shook my head. “No, he’s gone home.”
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